How to Write a Motivation Letter for Universities

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A letter of motivation is another name for a cover letter. Students typically send these letters to universities when they are applying for specific scholarship opportunities or special programs, such as an honors program or study abroad opportunity. When applying for general admission to school, students usually submit a personal essay. However, the content of the essay may be similar to what appears in a letter of motivation. Letters are important because they allow you to introduce yourself to key decision makers at the school.

1 Format the letter

Format the letter. Letters of motivation are formal, so use a business format. Align everything to the left and begin with the date. Then skip down a line and write the address of the university contact person. Come down a another line and write the formal salutation followed by a colon. Do not indent the paragraphs; just put a space between each one. Use a formal closure, and leave space to sign your name. Finally, type your name and personal contact information.

2 Create compelling content

Create compelling content. The letter should contain about 3 paragraphs of useful information. Resist the urge to repeat what you have already shared elsewhere in your application packet. You may make related comments, but try to keep your letter of motivation original. In the first paragraph, include information about your personality and prior experience that will make you a good fit for the program. In the second paragraph, explain what you hope to learn as a result of participating in the program. List goals that include both positive changes you can bring to the school and positive changes the school can create in your life. In the third paragraph, write about steps you're taking to prepare for the program and express interest in hearing a reply soon.

3 Revise and re-write

Revise and re-write. After taking some time away from your letter, come back and read through it again. Make sure the information is organized in a clear and easy-to-understand way. Also, check for grammar errors, and make sure your tone is appropriate. The letter should sound both enthusiastic and professional.

Kelli Karanovich was internationally published for the first time in "Adbusters" in 2006. She teaches online at the Christa McAuliffe Academy and contributes to the blog Mama's Musings. Karanovich holds a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from the University of Georgia and a certificate to teach from Shorter College.